Want to avoid joining the 48 million Americans who get food poisoning every year? Don’t expect your cookbook to help.
The study, published in the British Food Journal, evaluated bestselling cookbooks ― including those from Gwyneth Paltrow, Ina Garten, Rachel Ray and “The Pioneer Woman” Ree Drummond ― on whether they include information about how to tell when meat and other animal products are cooked to a safe temperature.
Researchers analyzed 1,497 recipes from 29 cookbooks that appeared on New York Times bestseller lists in 2013 and 2014. Recipes were considered “correct” if they noted the proper endpoint temperature for a meat or animal product, per guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. About 92 percent of recipes didn’t note a temperature at all. Some recommended other ways of measuring doneness, like cooking meat until its juices run clear or until it turns a certain color. Since these methods aren’t reliable, the study considered those recipes “incorrect.”
Of the 1,497 recipes tested, only 89 provided the correct temperature to tell when meat is done cooking.
Some cookbooks offered both good and bad cooking advice, the study’s senior author Benjamin Chapman told The Huffington Post. For example, one recipe in Paltrow’s cookbook It’s All Good noted a correct endpoint temperature, but also instructed readers to wash poultry before cooking it ― a practice that can spread bacteria around the kitchen and is warned against by the USDA and other experts.
Celebrity cookbook authors should include safe cooking temperatures in their recipes more often, he added.
“We have the ability to list a science-backed indicator,” Chapman said. “And we’re missing the boat.”
Chapman recommends keeping the USDA’s internal temperature chart (illustrated below) handy when cooking, to make sure you’re cooking meat to completion. It’s also helpful to learn about cross-contamination so you can stop bacteria from spreading.